If you’ve ever been injured in a car accident, then you likely know the full extent of harm that can be caused to a victim. Physical pain can be excruciating and last for days, weeks, months or even years at a time. A person’s finances can also take a hit, especially when extensive medical care and rehabilitation is need and a victim is unable to work while trying to recover. Although these damages may be recoverable if a victim succeeds on a personal injury claim, what about compensation for other losses that are more difficult to calculate, such as emotional distress?

Emotional distress damages are usually included in a general category of non-economic losses known as “pain and suffering.” Compensation meant specifically to address emotional distress is usually reserved only for cases where serious injuries have been suffered. To recover money for emotional distress, an individual must show that the negligent driver’s actions caused a victim anxiety, depression, humiliation, anguish or some other type of mental harm.

However, merely stating that one suffers from anxiety as the result of an accident is not enough to show emotional distress. Instead, a person must demonstrate that the mental harm is more than an immediate or “fleeting” concern. Also, the mental harm must be shown to be medically significant. Therefore, a victim will need to provide significant evidence to demonstrate the extent of the condition and how it affects an individual’s day-to-day life. This issue may even require expert testimony.

This is just one area of personal injury law that can play a huge role in the outcome of a case. Although liability must be imposed before damages can be awarded, establishing the full extent of one’s harm after liability has been proven can be just as challenging.